Project at a glance
Concept of building
Open for all
The University has responsibility for 200,000 rare books and over 4,000 irreplaceable archival collections, containing material in some 25 different languages. The outstanding quality, variety and antiquity of our historic collections touch on almost every field of human knowledge and endeavour, and constitute a rich record of the intellectual history of the University, Scotland, Europe and the world. The collections also chart the pioneering lives of Aberdeen graduates across the globe as explorers, scholars and entrepreneurs.
Here are a few examples of treasures within our stewardship, with more information available by clicking on the links below:
- The private collection of the University’s founder, Bishop William Elphinstone, with over thirty 15th century works.
- The richly illustrated Aberdeen Bestiary, written and illuminated possibly for an ecclesiastical patron around the year 1200, and one of the finest surviving manuscripts of its type.
- Treasures of the Renaissance and the pre-modern world of learning, some of which we have owned from the 15th century, from illustrated books on architecture and botany to comprehensive collections of literature and eloquence.
- The papers of Thomas Reid (1710-96), internationally known as the chief representative of the Scottish School of Common Sense, who studied and taught at Aberdeen.
- A comprehensive 6000-volume collection of the work of Sir Walter Scott.
- The most comprehensive collection of popular fiction published between 1790-1830, and the most important Dickens holdings outwith the British Library.
- Treasures of Jewish religion and history, including the beautifully illuminated codex of the Hebrew Bible dated to 1493-4, and the Biesenthal Collection of Rabbinical texts, one of the finest in the UK.
- An extensive collection of texts on medical practice and belief, from the 2nd century to the present day.
- The MacBean Stuart and Jacobite Collection collection of 3,500 books and 1,000 pamphlets covering every aspect of the Jacobite rebellions and their European context.
- A rich collection of books, manuscripts and artefacts depicting the voyages of travellers to the northernmost areas of the world - including Scandinavia, Greenland, Siberia and Canada - from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
- A rich variety of material collected over six centuries charting the geography, social and political histories of America and Canada, through the eyes of early settlers with Aberdeen connections.
- The collection of Aberdeen photographer and artist George Washington Wilson (1823-93) whose lens ranged all over Britain as well as South Africa, Australia and the western Mediterranean.
To preserve these collections for future generations, maximise their research potential, make them more accessible to anyone with an academic or personal interest, and bring additional treasures to Aberdeen, we need to rehouse them in a modern, environmentally controlled facility.
This is exactly what our new library will provide.
For fuller information on each of the collections outlined above please visit Special Libraries and Archives.
Below some examples from the Special Libraries and Archives collection are available in PDF format. Copyright for all this material is owned by the University of Aberdeen.